The attention, fame, and money that is awarded to someone who is not yet even allowed to drive are enough to play havoc on a child’s mental health. Let’s roll out the red carpet and stroll through some names that have come out on the other side of Hollywood for better or for worse.
Hearts throbbed all over the globe for Leonardo DiCaprio in the 90s. The blue-eyed actor first graced screens at the age of sixteen when he made an appearance on the daytime soap series “Santa Barbara.” While the show did not have staying power, DiCaprio certainly did.
After he wrapped up playing Mason Capwell on the show, the babyfaced thespian leaped from success to success. He found his silver screen breakthrough playing in "Romeo + Juliet.” A year later would see him break the ice on box office records starring in “Titanic.” Today he's known as one of the most notable film actors of our time.
Nickelodeon brought Amanda Bynes to its adoring, teeny-bopping audience through her series, “The Amanda Show.” The comedy sketch ran for three seasons and launched Bynes into childhood stardom. Her rising star turned to a falling star very quickly, though. The troubled actress found herself in trouble with the law on numerous charges.
Bynes disappeared from the public eye for a few years while she sought help and rehabilitation. The actress has since made a social media comeback, but no word yet on her return to the big (or small) screen.
Saturday Night Live stalwart Kenan Thompson has been splitting his audience’s sides for decades since first appearing on the Nickelodeon syndicated show “All That.” However, for anyone under thirty-five, Thompson will most likely trigger a lot of nostalgia as his same-named character in “Kenan and Kel.” (To turn up the nostalgia dial, remember Coolio singing the theme song?)
Thompson progressed to becoming part of the Saturday Night Live alumni in 2003 and has become the show’s longest-standing member! His other recent roles aren't very famous, mostly voice acting and small parts in TV shows.
Child star Lindsay Lohan is no stranger to controversy. The singer and actress rocketed to stardom at the tender age of eleven in the beloved film “The Parent Trap.” Young Lohan would go on to star in some of the 2000s greatest blockbusters, such as “Freaky Friday” and “Mean Girls.”
Her meteoric rise to fame brought scrutiny that the blossoming actress felt hard to cope with. A string of arrests for disorderly conduct and driving under the influence landed her in the less-than-good books of the law. It took extensive work for Lohan to recover and rebuild herself, let alone to get back to acting.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt does not know what life without the limelight feels like. The baby-faced actor brought his literal baby face to the small screen at the age of seven with a bit part in the American gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows.”
The world would only truly get to know Gordon-Levitt when his signature shoulder-length hair and breaking voice brought the character of Tommy Solomon to life in “Third Rock From the Sun.” Gordon-Levitt stayed on the straight and narrow throughout his showbiz career, and he helps run several charity operations alongside his full-time successful acting career.
Unbeknownst to most fans, Shia LaBeouf is quite a talented rapper. This makes sense when you also think he’s known for rap – mainly in the form of rap sheets.
The actor has sadly found himself in trouble with the authorities on numerous occasions. LaBeouf rose to fame by starring in some of the 2000s biggest blockbusters, including “Transformers” and “I, Robot.” The fame brought with it challenges that the young actor struggled to cope with, and controversy soon followed in the form of arrests and rumors about his unacceptable behavior.
Blacked Eyed Peas' golden girl Fergie may cast a sinister shadow as part of her performance art, but the singer-actress has had a very successful career without much drama. The multitalented artist first entered the entertainment industry when she provided her voice for two “Peanuts” movies in 1984.
Embracing her first love, music, Fergie landed a recording contract with her group “Wild Orchid” in the mid-90s. She admits to having fallen somewhat off the rails during this period but quickly picked herself up and was offered to sing for a song being produced by a then-unknown rapper named will.i.am. That song? “Shut Up.”
After bursting onto the music scene in 2007, Justin Bieber's still unbroken voice lilted alongside R&B heavyweights such as Usher. The age of innocence did not last long, though. As fortune came along with his meteoric rise to fame, the young singer made headlines for his illicit antics.
The “Baby” singer was even the target of a petition to have him deported back to his native Canada after being arrested for a DUI in 2014 alongside rapper DJ Khaled. The singer eventually admitted to struggling with substance abuse.
For Mila Kunis, whose career started off by starring in “7th Heaven”, it is astonishing that the rest of her career was rather wholesome. The Ukrainian-born actress found minor showbiz success after moving to the United States with her family when she was seven years old.
Her precocious nature landed her the role of the dim-witted Jackie Burkhart on the “That 70s Show” at the tender age of fourteen! Kunis is currently married to her “That 70s Show” co-star, Ashton Kutcher, with whom she has two children.
At the age of six, Drew Barrymore captured the hearts of audiences worldwide as Gertie in “E.T. The Extraterrestrial.” Barrymore’s naivete would soon dissolve under the weight of expectations placed on child actors. The actress tragically revealed that her substance abuse issues shockingly began at the age of twelve.
Years of rehabilitation followed, along with a vicious legal battle to emancipate herself from her mother’s guardianship. Barrymore came out on the other side of the tragic years for the better and managed to find her feet. The actress has since starred in numerous movies.
The effervescent actress Hayden Panettiere has spent exactly ten months out of the limelight. The first ten months of her life, to be precise! The “Heroes” starlet first began gracing screens by starring in television commercials before she was a year old. Panettiere took a hiatus from acting after giving birth to her and her ex-husband’s daughter in 2014.
She did so to deal with postpartum depression. The couple would sadly separate, and Panettiere would fall victim to domestic abuse in her next relationship at the hands of ex-boyfriend Brian Hickerson. The experience would prompt the pin-sized actress to become an activist against gender-based violence.
We have the giant purple dinosaur, Barney, to thank for bringing Demi Lovato into the limelight. The performer, known for their singing and acting prowess, was a regular on the set of “Barney and Friends” from 2002. Their triple-threat talents did not go unrecognized, and they were soon snapped up and signed by Disney.
The pressures of Hollywood eventually overwhelmed the adolescent Lovato, and they admitted to first abusing substances as a teenager. Demi became a prominent headline name for their public outbursts and eventually committed to rehabilitation. They continue to release music, though they haven't acted in a long time.
Do we have Miss Honey to thank for Mara Wilson turning out alright? The actress became a household name at the age of nine when she played the titular character of the Roald Dahl classic, “Matilda.” Wilson experienced tragedy while filming Matilda with the passing away of her mother.
The traumatic event made Wilson reassess her career path, and she took a twelve-year break from the film industry and focused on becoming a writer. Wilson has since returned to acting, mainly on the small screen.
American actor Edward Furlong was the envy of almost every 90s kid when at fourteen-year-old he scored a supporting role alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Misfortune would become a constant feature in Furlong’s troubled life and his rising star would soon turn into a falling one.
Although he managed to produce a few movies in the 90s, Furlong’s substance abuse and domestic violence charges would cost him his future in film. Furlong emerged from obscurity in 2021 to discuss his struggles with addiction and maintains that he has been sober for a number of years.
Squeaky clean child actor and boyband ambassador, Justin Timberlake has spent thirty years in the entertainment industry without a scratch of a scandal. (Well, that’s if we can forget the Janet Jackson mishap.) The singer-actor found his big break at the age of twelve on “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” alongside future megastars Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and future bandmate JC Chasez.
Timberlake and Chasez teamed up to form NSYNC and would go on to establish a successful solo career. The devoted father and husband only courted controversy when a wardrobe malfunction saw him and Janet Jackson red-faced at the Superbowl.
British-American actress Mischa Barton was one of those 90s faces you saw everywhere before her fall from grace. The statuesque blonde first appeared on the long-running American daytime drama “All My Children.” Agents snapped her up, and within a year, she was starring alongside Sam Rockwell in her first silver-screen film “Lawn Dogs“ which eventually led to her global fame in “The O.C.” Barton’s star would soon dim as addiction sadly took hold.
Barton had herself committed and described her scary experience as “Girl, Interrupted” in reference to the Angelina Jolie movie. A second hospitalization followed in 2019 thanks to a concerned neighbor.
Natalie Portman’s first acting role was no indication of how her life would end up! The world first got to know the American actress in the Luc Besson sleeper hit “Léon: The Professional.” Portman played the part of a twelve-year-old from a broken home who wishes to learn the skills of an assassin.
The highly skilled actress is also a devoted academic, having graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Portman has so far received three Oscars, all this while being a full-time mother too!
Winona Ryder burst onto the big screen at the age of sixteen to star as Lydia in Tim Burton’s groundbreaking “Beetlejuice.” Ryder’s character epitomized every goth guy’s fantasy, and her deadpan charm turned her into a darling of the silver screen. It came as a shock when Ryder was arrested for shoplifting in 2001.
During the court proceedings, it was revealed that Ryder had been abusing prescription drugs. The actress was convicted of vandalism and grand theft. Ryder thankfully cleaned up her act and saved her acting career. Modern audiences will best know her for playing Joyce Byers on “Stranger Things.”
Neil Patrick Harris
Before Neil Patrick Harris landed his most prominent role as philanderer Barney Stinson in “How I Met Your Mother,” audiences knew him as “Doogie Howser, M.D.” Patrick Harris entered the world of acting at the age of fifteen when he took on the role of the prodigal child doctor.
Patrick Harris’ multiple decades in front of the camera have earned him some impressive accolades and, even more impressively, no scandals! In 2015, he became the first openly gay man to present and host the Oscars. Patrick Harris is a doting father of twins with his husband, David Burtka.
For anyone who turned on a television, read a newspaper, or simply existed, Britney Spears’ meteoric rise to fame and subsequent fall from grace became part of their daily life between 1998 and 2006. Britney Spears has run the gamut from the squeaky clean Mouseketeer to “princess of pop” to shaving her head in public while yelling at the paparazzi.
In recent years, the "Free Britney" movement took the center stage. While now the former child star is free, her Instagram followers are still concerned about her mental health as portrayed in her often-unnerving on social media posts.
Magic certainly came into Daniel Radcliffe’s life when he scored the lead role in the film adaptation of the wildly successful ”Harry Potter” book franchise at the age of nine. The British actor grew up in front of the world’s eyes but managed to keep the pressures of being a child star at bay.
On top of being credited as one of the most approachable and engaging celebrities, Radcliffe has also escaped the tabloids and kept his image intact in the years that he has been in showbiz.
Macaulay Culkin made his mark by outwitting thieves in his breakthrough role as Kevin McCallister in the box-office titans “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” The actor could not outwit his parents, who held conservatorship over his fortune and career.
Culkin would become one of the first child celebrities to publicly “divorce” his parents and seek emancipation. He would sadly spiral into addiction and a complete retreat from the public eye. The actor has made somewhat of a comeback in 2021's "American Horror Story: Double Feature."
Unlike many others on this list, American actor Elijah Wood is a stranger to controversy. The blue-eyed actor is forever emblazoned on moviegoers' minds as Frodo, the main character of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
His film career started long before Peter Jackson brought him out of the Shire, and his first roles would come about in the late 1980s at the age of seven in music videos and bit parts. Rather than become embroiled in Hollywood scandal, the actor has openly spoken out against it and has credited his attentive parents with keeping him on the straight and narrow.
“Saved by the Bell” star Mark-Paul Gosselaar starred in the hit television series throughout its four-year run. The character proved to be a commercial success for Gosselaar, and he would reprise it for a number of spin-offs. The actor was not oblivious to the hazards of being a child actor but thankfully escaped falling victim to its pressures.
In a 2021 interview, Gosselaar detailed how he would not allow any of his four children to work in the entertainment industry as it is “no place for kids.” The happily married actor and devoted dad continues to work in television.
Chloe Grace Moretz
Chloe Grace Moretz was introduced to audiences as a pre-teen with hitman proclivities. The then ten-year-old Grace Moretz shouldered up with Nicolas Cage in the 2007 summer smash “Kick-Ass.” The young actress grew up in a tight-knit family and, in her words, “especially Christian.”
The bonds never broke, and today, her two brothers both act as managers and acting coaches for her. Grace Moretz has stated that due to her fulfilling family life, she leans towards challenging herself through darker roles, although she makes sure to keep darkness on set and out of her personal life.
At the age of ten, Christina Ricci had a very impressive resume. The starlet featured in a handful of the 90s biggest blockbusters and held her own against the acting skills of Hollywood heavyweights such as Nicolas Cage, Cher, and Anjelica Huston. She recalls her early acting as her “glory days.”
Ricci managed to avoid the Hollywood curse that befalls most child actors. She has seen herself adapt to more indie roles than Hollywood mainstream and has expressed a desire to have changed the course of this. Ricci ended a turbulent marriage in 2021 but soon remarried.
Jaimee Foxworth will be instantly recognizable to 90s audiences as the doe-eyed neighbor of Steve Urkel on the sitcom ”Family Matters.” The introduction of the character of Steve Urkel would prove to be the demise of Foxworth’s character on the show, as Urkel took up much of the limelight.
Foxworth’s character would be written out of the show, and Foxworth herself struggled to land subsequent acting roles. The pressure became too much for her, and she lapsed into a period of depression and addiction. Foxworth has since given birth to a son who she claims “saved her life.”
Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure will always be remembered as the eldest Tanner daughter in the sitcom “Full House.” Bure found reliable work after the sitcom ended in 1995, but she made a sudden departure in 2000. Fortunately, it was not related to any “child actor curse.” She just decided that she wants to give her undivided attention to her growing family with her hockey-player husband, Valeri Bure.
Cameron Bure returned to the small screen in 2007 and has become a familiar face on several popular shows. The actress reprised her role as DJ Tanner for the Netflix-syndicated “Fuller House” and is a bestselling author.
While it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly happened to Miley Cyrus, fans worldwide could only look on while the actress-singer swung from cherubic Hannah Montana to wild child.
The daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus smoked while on award shows, twerked against Robin Thicke, and, last but not least, was rumored to have not been faithful while being married to ex Liam Hemsworth. The songstress has managed to brush off any rumors of mental health issues and continues to dazzle, or perhaps confuse, her fans.
There is a reason that “Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik played the role of neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler so convincingly on the show: the actress is, actually, a neuroscientist!
The American actress first graced screens in a number of supporting roles in the 1980s until landing the titular role of Blossom on the NBC sitcom. The highly successful actress has written two books and, as a passionate vegan, founded the “Shamayim V'Aretz Institute,” a Jewish animal advocacy organization.
The Olsen Twins
Here’s a two-for-one celebrity child actor that fell from grace. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were two of the defining faces of early 90s sitcom culture, albeit to their resistance. The fraternal twins were signed to share the character of Michelle Tanner on the smash-hit “Full House.” First appearing on screen at nine months, the Olsen twins would go on to grow up on the set.
They have spoken of their disdain for not having chosen the lifestyle. The twins retreated from acting and established a fashion line, of which they have settled disputes for exploiting employees.
Hilary Duff set a new standard for modern entertainment. The actress and singer played Lizzie McGuire on the same-named Disney Channel show and established herself as a trailblazer in the burgeoning crossover industry of child actors in the early 2000s to music and film.
Numerous singers have attributed Duff as being influential in their careers, including Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez. Duff steered clear of the temptations of showbiz and stayed true to her roots, never finding herself the subject of a gossip column. The mother-of-three continues to take on acting projects, such as 2015's "Younger" and 2022's “How I Met Your Father.”
Haley Joel Osment
Haley Joel Osment peaked, fell, and, fortunately, bounced back. The actor first shared screen time with two of Hollywood’s titans – first as Tom Hank's son in “Forrest Gump” and then as Bruce Willis’ patient in “The Sixth Sense.” No easy order for a child actor.
The unprecedented success of “The Sixth Sense,” which garnered him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, was not a forecast of an unending offer of film roles. Joel Osment was arrested at the age of eighteen after totaling his car while driving under the influence. The actor still has some voice-acting gigs and small roles here and there.
Mickey Mouse magic struck Ryan Gosling’s career path too! The hunky actor first appeared on screen as a Mouseketeer alongside Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. The young Gosling found acting roles consistently after leaving “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” and seamlessly transitioned from goofy child actor to serious Hollywood heavyweight.
Gosling is notoriously private, and little is known of his personal life. What is known, though, is his doting fatherhood to his two daughters shared with his long-time partner, Eva Mendes.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were not the only casualties of “Full House” fame. Jodie Sweetin, who played sister to the twins in the seminal 1990s sitcom, did not find immediate success after the show was canceled when she was fourteen years old. Sadly, Sweetin turned to alcohol which set her on a path of self-destruction.
She managed to fight it, though, and graduate from university but soon relapsed, and her habits became far more life-threatening. The actress battled her demons, managed to come out for the better, and has since returned to "Fuller House" to reprise the role that made her famous.
Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman-Maday took a pruning shear to her name, and audiences and fans better know her as simply Raven. The actress and singer’s first acting role was on “The Cosby Show” at the age of four. Her tiny star power did not go unnoticed, and she was signed up to star in “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” which garnered her numerous award nominations.
The performer identifies as non-binary and has lent her voice, support, and presence to many LGBTQIA+ causes. Raven currently is part of the panel on the daytime talk show “The View.”
By her own account, fame never appealed to actress Claire Danes. Instead, she just wanted to “be a person who has a life and acts.” This kept her head squarely on her shoulders as fame did come knocking after she starred in “My So-Called Life.”
Although Danes has not courted much controversy, she did make disparaging remarks about Manila, the capital of the Philippines, which earned her the status of a “persona non grata” by the Filipino government! The actress has had a long-running role on the show “Borderlands.”
Acting is in Emma Watson’s blood. Her prolific school performances prompted her teachers and acting coaches to suggest she try out for a new role advertised by Warner Brothers: that of Hermione Granger. The rest, as they say, is history. The “Harry Potter” actress continued to act until pursuing an academic career.
The brainy Watson graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and has since gone on to establish a fashion line and raise awareness for a number of humanitarian causes. She doesn't really act as often, but she did turn out more than alright.
Alyson Hannigan’s mother recognized her daughter’s star potential and made the decision to relocate to Hollywood when Hannigan was only eleven years old. It would not take long before agents recognized her talent, too, and she landed a role in “My Stepmother Is an Alien,” sharing the screen with Dan Aykroyd and Kim Basinger. Hannigan’s mother managed and supported her daughter throughout her acting career.
Today, she lives with her husband and fellow “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actor Alexis Denisof with their two children in Los Angeles.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar was a gem of the 1990s. The actress had endless appeal, and casting agents fought for her attention. The New York native has been on-set since the age of four, and not a single year has passed where she did not star in something since.
To round off her ambitions, the actress is a proficient martial artist, ice skating champion, and humanitarian. This talented woman has never landed in hot water and settled down with her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr., early on in her career.
The sun has not stopped shining for Little Miss Sunshine herself, Abigail Breslin. After her breakthrough role in “Little Miss Sunshine,” the budding actress struck Hollywood gold and navigated the daunting world of show business with her mother as her manager. The actress has made headlines for all the right reasons, but in 2021 tragedy struck, however, when her father passed away.
The actress took a break from social media following this. She continues to gain recognition for her roles.
Alyssa Milano credits her “normal childhood” for having no skeletons in her career closet. Milano recalls that although she was rubbing shoulders with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tony Danza, she was still expected to do chores around the house, such as cleaning her room and setting the dinner table!
A lifelong activist, Milano appeared on live television to cover the topic of AIDS in the 1980s. She is very active in the American political scene and has taken an active stance for and against many policies.
It seems that the Grinch stole more than just Christmas from starlet Taylor Momsen. The tiny blonde actress shined next to Jim Carrey in her breakout role as Cindy Lou Who in the Dr. Seuss big-screen remake. At the time, she had already been acting and modeling. This did not prepare her for the long-term effects, and she stated that she was over the film world by the time she was a teenager.
Momsen was eventually phased out of “Gossip Girl” for her erratic and diva-like behavior on the set. Today she still works as a musician with her band “The Pretty Reckless.”
Pop diva Christina Aguilera was a successful product of “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club.” Although she did not qualify because of an age restriction, her audition was memorable enough that the studio signed her up once she came of age two years later.
The blonde New Yorker has undergone several artistic evolutions in her career, some of which have attracted much scrutiny. Her release of “Dirrty” in 2002 ruffled feathers for what some said was inappropriate. Aguilera continues to be a songstress and is a proud supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community.
It seems one can hardly turn their head in any direction nowadays without seeing Kirsten Stewart. The multifaceted actress found fame as Jodie Foster’s beleaguered daughter in the 2002 thriller “Panic Room” at the age of 12. Stewart has confessed to not being comfortable in the limelight but has made a success of her chosen career path.
She has mostly avoided being embroiled in scandal (except for her very public cheating on her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson.) The outspoken actress has not shied away from social justice topics, and this has made her the target of dissenters. We say keep doing what you’re doing, Kirsten!
Gravel-voiced and all-around American hunk Josh Brolin first brought his irresistible screen presence to life in 1985 in the Steven Spielberg production of “The Goonies.” The actor has since become a mainstay in Hollywood and switches effortlessly between leading man and supporting roles.
However, upon seeing the premiere of his first leading man film, Brolin recoiled in horror and avoided acting for several years. Try and spot Brolin in especially heavy CGI effects as Thanos in “The Avengers” film series! He's now a devoted husband and father to four children.
Starlet Dakota Fanning spent her first acting job with tubes coming out of her nose and her neck firmly in a brace on the wildly popular hospital series “E.R.” No, Fanning was not trying out an extreme form of method acting but played the part of a cancer patient who had been in a car accident. Her dedication to roles became the stuff of legends and Steven Spielberg himself gave her kudos for her acting instincts despite her young age.
Fanning is free from any disreputable accusations and continues to work tirelessly as an actress.
The years certainly have been wonderful for Danica McKellar. McKellar found fame at the age of thirteen when she scored the iconic role of Winnie Cooper on the comedy-drama series “The Wonder Years.” After the show ended, the actress played several bit roles but struggled to transition from child actor to celebrity. The brilliant McKellar did not let this set her back.
She pursued an awe-inspiring academic career, wrote four books on mathematics, and, as of 2022, is a judge on the Fox reality show “Domino Masters.”
Shannen was only 19 when she auditioned for “Beverly Hills 90210,” as the super-dramatic Brenda. Despite that young age, she has already had several acting successes under her belt, like her role in “Heathers” and “Our House”. Though she went through a rough patch after that show, Doherty soon made an impression as Prue Halliwell on “Charmed.”
She then went on to compete in “Dancing With the Stars.” Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 1999 and breast cancer in 2015. Fortunately, she has recovered.